There are certain perks of attending an SEC school that simply cannot be reproduced elsewhere, the biggest of which includes exposure to time-honored tradition in the form of intense rivalries and highly-physical, rapid-paced athletics.
More than 95,000 people filled Neyland stadium Saturday to witness an exciting upset and a one-handed reception that was deemed worthy of SportsCenter's Top Ten.
The night before, Tennessee's very own hockey team, the Ice Vols, defeated the Georgia Ice Dogs 8-4, with freshman forward Gage Despins registering his second hat trick with the program.
Estimated attendance: 10.
One of the pinnacles of a collegiate athlete's career is the chance to perform to the best of their ability before a substantial crowd, glorifying their sport and hopefully marking their place among school history.
The University of Tennessee's ice hockey program was founded in 1966, making it the oldest organization of its kind in the South. Run by Tennessee Rec Sports, it is technically club-level, but it functions much like an NCAA-sponsored varsity sport. Players put in effort comparable to that of Division I athletes, and expect similar results.
"We give it our all," said Kyle Knell, the Ice Vols' captain. "Just because it's a club sport, we don't take it lightly. We come to practice and we work hard.
"We have some talented guys who are passionate about the sport and still want to do something with playing hockey."
Fans can expect to see that passion on the ice during games.
"It's a fast-paced game, there's a lot of hard hitting, and a lot of hard-fought battles," Knell said. "It's just an all-around intense game that's hard to dislike."
Knell is not along in his rationale.
"Even if you don't know what's going on, there are a lot of people that like hockey for its intensity and aggression" said Adam Heath, a sophomore transfer that came to Tennessee for its hockey program.
"I wanted to be a part of something bigger," Heath continued. "I hope that in the future we can get sponsored by the university, because I think that with the effort that we're putting into it and the results we're getting, it would be great to be recognized by the school."
Due to previously-strained relationships between the Ice Vols and Rec Sports, the team gets very little funding.
Other SEC teams, such as Alabama, receive quadruple the amount of funds Tennessee does for hockey, and with pricey equipment – a single hockey stick costs roughly $200 – and dues that amount to almost $750 a semester, it has an impact on the teams they field.
"It's hard on the guys, because they want to play the game, but they've also got school, they've got to work to pay their dues, and then they've got to come to practice too," said assistant coach Cole Burkhalter, "I think a little bit more money from the university would go a long way for these guys."
Right now, the team feels as though the biggest thing for its morale would be more fellow students showing their support in the stands.
"More of a student turnout would be huge," said senior Ben McParlan. "Playing in front of fans really gives you an edge, and when you've got people behind you, it's something extra that gives you that push."